Read with Me
with Young Children Who Sign
download the pdf
book and videotape set Reading to Deaf Children: Learning
from Deaf Adults, is a good resource for parents who are signing to deaf babies. Most of the children in this tape are not
babies any more, but many of the ideas David R. Schleper
gives parents can be used with infants, too.
First of all, start right away.
You know your baby doesn't understand the language yet,
but the closeness, attention, and bright, interesting colors
and shapes are still exciting. Best of all, your baby has
your undivided attention.
you are sharing a book, keep the book visible and your
signs visible. How can you do that? Most books for small
children will stay open. You can put the book on a pillow
so that your baby, in your lap, can see your signs and the
book. You can sit side by side on the couch or on the floor
and make many of your signs right on the book itself. When
your baby is in her high chair, you can put the book on
her tray and share the story with her if you can read and
look at pictures upside down! Where do you and your baby
like to sit and have conversations? Take your books there.
Just be sure he can see your face, the signs, and the book.
for videos of popular stories. More and more companies
and institutions are creating videotapes of popular children's
stories in American Sign Language and Manually Coded English.
The storytellers on the tapes mesmerize even very young
deaf babies. When you get the actual books out to read your
baby will be excited to see a familiar story and ready to
communicate about it with you. Here are the names of some
references that parents who use Sign Language might use:
Schleper, D.R. (1997) Reading to
Deaf Children: Learning from Deaf Adults. Washington
D.C: Gallaudet University Press. (booklet and videotape)
Twice Told Tales:
Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center
800 Florida Avenue, NE, Washington D.C. 20002
Shaw, P.C. Visual Storyreading in
American Sign Language. Kansas School for the Deaf.
Schick, B. and Moeller, M.P. Read
With Me. Boys Town Press,
Father Flanagan's Boys Home Boys Town Press,
14100 Crawford Street, Boys Town, NE, 68101
for programs to help you to read in sign language. Many
times hearing parents are nervous about signing stories
to their deaf babies. If your baby is deaf, you probably
recognize the feeling. "I don't know all those words.
How can I read this book?" The Shared Reading Program*
is one source of help for hearing parents. Deaf adults use
videotapes and coaching to help parents feel comfortable
with books for children from birth to age 8. Reading to
your baby can become part of your effort to learn to sign.
Reading and sharing books is an important way for the two
of you to communicate. Here is the address of the Shared
The Shared Reading Project.
KDES PAS#11, Gallaudet University, 800 Florida Avenue, N.E.,
Washington, D.C. 20002-3695.
*The Shared Reading Project is a complete
program of parent support using videotapes, Deaf tutors
and book packets, and is not available in all areas of the
country. More centers are being added every year.
Deaf adults to read. Even if the Shared Reading Program is not available in your area, you may be able to find opportunities to meet Deaf adults who like to read and tell stories. If you are lucky enough to find Deaf friends, encourage them to become part of your baby's book experience. You will have a chance to see all the ways that communication about books can happen. For example, Deaf adults may communicate with facial expressions, role-playing, pointing and gestures, and signs. Your baby will have a chance to see more than one person reading and to communicate with more than one person about books.
Read stories over and over.
Every time you and your baby share a book, you will feel
more confident about telling the story and about your conversations.
Your baby will remember what is going to happen. She will
wait to see the funny expression on your face, or to catch
that new word or phrase that is so much fun to sign along
with you. Your baby will learn something new with every